Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: City Slang
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Electronica, Techno, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno
Releasing his debut album Lucky Shiner back in 2010, Essex-bred Gold Panda quickly gained cult status in the indie/ electronica world. His first full-length for three years, GLADYB stems from a time spent collaborating with photographer Laura Lewis during a trip to Hiroshima; it reflects that journey with every layer depicting humour, sadness and elation throughout his carefully selected instrumentation. He happily plays around with genre influences too, from the hip-hop tones of In My Car, to the acoustic repetitions of I Am Real Punk to the house-tinged vibes of Autumn Fall.
When you look beyond life's gauntlet of insufferable bullshit, sometimes we do live in a bright, wonderful world; Derwin Panda has decided it’s time to draw back the curtains and take a good look at it. Good Luck and Do Your Best is imbued with shiny-eyed, open-hearted optimism, and built with all the sensitivity and care that we’ve come to expect from anything Gold Panda touches. Evocative of Derwin’s most recent travels through his beloved Japan, it’s also an exploration of life's little things.
Compared to other texture-obsessed electronic artists, Gold Panda’s sound seems strangely organic, as if he hunts down and captures the sonic phenomena in his tracks rather than engineering them in the studio. Arrayed next to the churning drone-house of the Field, the hip-hop esotericism of Nosaj Thing, and the voraciously experimental beat-making of Flying Lotus, the London-based producer’s approach seems more naturalistic, grounded in earth, even elegantly empirical; this is an artist attuned to the subtle beauty of certain sounds taking shape and seizing vitality, growing from bytes of pitch, volume, and waveform data into living, breathing things. During some moments, you can almost sense him opening his hands and releasing these sounds into the aural ecosystem he’s cultivated.
Gold Panda, or Derwin as he prefers to be known, has always been adept at injecting a sense of travel and adventure into his music. Both his critically-acclaimed debut, 2010’s Lucky Shiner, and its equally well-received follow-up, 2013‘s Half Of Where You Live, managed to piece together an array of different sounds – swathes of synth, techno beats and more – and transform them into songs that captured his fondness for globe-trotting. Unsurprisingly, Gold Panda’s return is once again indebted to travel – and Derwin’s recurring love affair with Japan.
Inspired by a trip to Japan, Good Luck and Do Your Best is one of Gold Panda's warmest, sunniest releases, reflecting the colorful foliage of the island nation. The British producer continues to nick lush acoustic samples from scratchy old vinyl LPs for his tracks, and even more so than before, they feel like proper songs rather than sample collages, even as the instruments clearly sound sampled rather than being played live. He constructs his tracks the way a hip-hop producer would, particularly one who loves to chop up breakbeats and samples, but he also clearly loves house music.
It would be unfair compare Gold Panda to Caribou on the basis that they both make immersive, tender electronica, have at one point or another been signed to City Slang, and are named after cute mammals. But if the latter’s shuffling house rhythms and minor-key samples give you a kick then Mr Panda is certainly a pleasing chaser. He has not yet reached the same heights as his labelmate, perhaps because he favours glitch over a good hook.
All Gold Panda albums have started with something simple: an image or a theme that the album can be built around. In the case of his latest record, it began with the parting words of a Japanese cab driver, who said "Good luck and do your best" as Gold Panda was exiting the car at Hiroshima. It's a phrase that stuck so firmly that he felt the need to extrapolate on it musically, embodying its upbeat message as much as possible.Not many would attempt to base an entire LP on the broken English goodbye of a never-to-be-seen-again taxi driver, but as far as musically encapsulating the phrase's positivity goes, Gold Panda has pretty much nailed it.
In 2014, Gold Panda – real name unclear, though he'll admit his first is Derwin – went to Japan with photographer Laura Lewis hoping to capture some field recordings for a new album. Along with the accompanying visuals, Panda hoped to create a sight and sound-based work that would break the traditions of what an album could and should be. On one fateful afternoon, Panda and Lewis took a taxi and as they were getting out the driver said 'Ganbatte, Kudasai' which loosely translated means 'Good luck and do your best'.
"Good luck and do your best!"—the parting wishes of a Hiroshima taxi driver to producer Gold Panda (aka Derwin Schlecker) on a recent trip to Japan. Little did that driver know that his simple politeness would be the catalyst for a new album for the English electronic artist. The title was the genesis of the record, with what followed becoming Gold Panda's most optimistic album yet.
Two years ago Gold Panda made a series of trips across Japan with the photographer Laura Lewis to gather visuals and field recordings for what was supposed to be “a sight and sound documentary,” perhaps not unlike Chris Marker’s quiet and thoughtful film essays. So far the documentary hasn’t been made, but the impressions of the trips during the fall and spring of 2014 led to his first album in three years, Good Luck and Do Your Best. Apparently the moment of inspiration and the album’s title came from a chance interaction with a taxi driver who wished them luck, saying those very words as they exited the cab.
Gold Panda’s music has always been informed by wonderment, feeling lost and bewildered by a wave of overwhelming sensations. Often influenced by his travels, the Chelmsford, UK, producer’s work frequently captures loneliness and the rush of new experiences that come from exploring new locales. For Good Luck and Do Your Best, his third full-length album and first for City Slang, the producer focused on his travels to Japan, moving away from the dance-focused material of 2013’s Half of Where You Live and toward a meditative love letter to the country where he once lived.
The electronic music community has never known exactly what to make of Gold Panda. (Just check his Discogs, tagged with everything from IDM and electro to downtempo and deep house.) The UK producer, known only as Derwin, was discovered at the height of the late '00s mp3 blog frenzy, when his "You" spread like digital wildfire, and then signed to electronica purveyor Ghostly International. So there's always been a sense that he didn't appeal to dance music diehards.
Derwin Schlecker documents in the form of a travelogue on Good Luck and Do Your Best. After taking a series of trips to Japan in 2014, the English electronic producer had fully become immersed with the country’s vibrant sights and sounds. It’s not the first time that he’s been inspired by outside sources - one of his earlier works, Lucky Shiner, etched together unfamiliar samples that resembled something of a daydream, as if he’s creating these imaginary sound sculptures out of images that are pure conjecture.
The third studio album from Gold Panda sees both imagery and sound bond together. Compared to previous album ‘Half of Where You Live’, Derwin Panda’s sound finds a clearer sense of purpose, leaving the music to emerge from the depths of his creativity at steady pace. Throughout, ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’ tells a story. From seasonal colours and buildings to the country’s people, the album seamlessly retains the integrity of a trip through Japan.
Inspired during the makings of an artistic documentary of his travels through Japan, Gold Panda’s fourth LP began during a two-part trip to the country with photographer Laura Lewis back in 2014. Quite unconventionally the concept sparking Good Luck and Do Your Best was its title; the charmingly mistranslated farewell given by a Hiroshima taxi-driver on their journey. Finding creative inspiration in this encouraging message, Gold Panda, who apparently prefers the moniker Derwin, felt the stirrings of a record he wanted to be ‘motivational and positive’.
It was about a decade ago now that many software companies were coming out with digital audio workstations marketed at struggling musicians. It’s no coincidence that this corresponded with the rise in amateur beats being released online, some gaining recognition through YouTube. For a select few though, this newfound ease in electronic production allowed truly talented individuals a means to create.